Published: 07:57, 10 September 2018
| Updated: 19:59, 10 September 2018
A campaign group calling for hospital parking charges to be scrapped has presented a petition to Downing Street today.
FairFuel UK's petition, dubbed 'Scrap car parking charges at NHS Hospitals in England', has reached more than 25,000 supporting signatures.
Its Cranbrook-based founder Howard Cox has been campaigning with MP Robert Halfon (Con), who delivered the petition this morning.
They say the fees are a "stealth tax" and patients and visitors are "sick to death" of the fees.
Mr Cox said in a statement this morning: "FairFuel UK supporters in their thousands want hospital parking fees to be scrapped.
"The highest taxed motorists in the world are sick to death of continuing hits in their pockets, even more so when they are sick or visiting those they love in hospital.
"These charges hit those on low incomes and the most vulnerable the hardest."
Harlow MP Robert Halfon, who has been campaigning on the issue for four years, said the levies are: “A shameful stealth tax on the poor, the vulnerable, the needy and the sick”.
A spokesman for East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust said parking fees are invested back into patient care.
In a statement, they said: "East Kent Hospitals is one of the country’s largest NHS trusts with five hospital sites across Kent.
"All the trust’s car parks are managed internally and offer a range of concessions for patients and visitors, including blue-badge holders, oncology and renal patients, as well as weekly parking permits to reduce costs for people who need to visit the hospital several times over an extended period.
"The total amount raised through car parking each year is combined income from the trust’s five hospital sites and is income from both staff and patients.
"Once operating costs are deducted, all remaining income is invested back into the trust to support patient care and experience."